Ask.com, one of the major players in the search engine space, has announced that it will be cutting 8% of its workforce and focusing on its core user, married women. The Wall Street Journal article outlining ask.com’s new strategy (free preview) goes into greater detail. The San Francisco Chronicle touches on the ask.com retreat in their Daily Digest.
After years of trying to compete as a credible, all-purpose alternative to Google, Ask is throwing in the towel. Ask’s new strategy will be a return to their AskJeeves days where they catered to the married women of middle America “looking for help managing their lives.” As a result, Ask will go back to focusing on answering search queries posed as questions.
It will be interesting to see how Ask’s loyal users react to this new strategy. How many users who don’t fit Ask’s core demographic flee to one of the remaining major search engines? I think Ask will loose a fair amount of search traffic, as once loyal users become dissatisfied with the new strategy.
Another interesting question to ponder, will Ask’s retreat create a viable opening in the major search space for a new search engine player such as True Knowledge or Cuill?